Posted by: A Part of the Solution | July 18, 2011

Frijoles Negros

These are by no means an ‘authentic’ dish. I cook in America, using the ingredients I grow or can buy locally. I’m not a trained Mexican cook, so my Mexican food is really “Mexican” food. These sentences are by way of disclaimer. But when I make this black bean dish, my farmhands have seconds, thirds, and even fourths (if they strategize carefully to leave room, that is).

Black beans are just full of nutrition. And they taste great lots of ways. As well, they’re one of my favorite delivery systems for Iron–in which I’ve been nearly chronically deficient for most of my life. So I take special care in preparing them, in order to make my favorite a farm-wide favorite.

Frijoles Negros 

1 lb of dry black beans or 1 can of about 40 oz.

2 bay leaves

3 TBSP bacon fat or olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp, scant, cinnamon

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp ground fennel seed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp oregano, or 1 TBSP fresh oregano

2 tsp salt, or to taste

1 1/2 TBSP cocoa powder

1 big bell pepper, or 3 banana peppers, or a small handful of hotter peppers, say jalapenos or cherry bombs (depending on your preference and what you have on hand)–seeded (if you don’t want the heat) and chopped to a size which matches the onions and the black beans

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 cup prepared salsa, or 1 cup diced tomatoes (again consult your pantry/fridge)

1 TBSP malt or apple cider vinegar

If you’re using dry beans, soak them (one hour with boiling water poured over, or overnight in tap water to cover them by two inches) and cook them 1 1/2-2 hours at a low simmer with a couple bay leaves. The older the beans are, the longer they take to cook.

If you’re using canned beans, drain them and rinse them and cook them at a low simmer with a bay leaf or two just to get the ‘canned’ taste out of them. They’ll be ready to hit the frijoles pan when you’re that far along in the recipe.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the fat or oil. Add the chopped onions and cook them over low medium heat for about three minutes. Then add the herbs and spices through cocoa powder. Let these take a couple of minutes to release their fragrance. Now add the peppers. In a couple of minutes more, add the garlic. Add the drained, rinsed beans and the cup of salsa or diced tomatoes. Lower the heat slightly and let this cook for about twenty minutes. Finish with vinegar, then turn off the heat.

If you need Refritos Negros, just get out your potato masher and go to work on those beans. In a few minutes, they’ll be lumpy and gloppy and enticing. If you need bean dip, get out your blender or food processor and add the contents of the pan. If you want to serve the dip cold, increase the herbs and spices by about a third–since cold food dulls the taste bud receptors.



  1. You’re back! Yay!

    • It’s been crazy busy, but I know my fans can’t do without that occasional hit from the laboratory of the mad Dr Me!

  2. Love it. (and I think you need to edit the second sentence – but we all know what you meant)

    It’s blazing hot here, so if I make this, I’ll definitely be cooking the beans in a crock pot stuck out on my back porch, so as not to heat up the house.

    If someone wants to give me a summer kitchen for my birthday, I won’t say no.

    • I want to give you a summer kitchen for your birthday, but only if you give me one for mine!

      • I think your summer kitchen would be more elaborate. or at least more durable. You’ll be putting on a lot more mileage!

      • You’re right about that. It would serve more people daily, as well as processing veggies at a higher volume. Hmmmm.

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